Sunday, November 08, 2009

Outreach in Macedonia

Right after coming back from Austria I headed for Skopje, Macedonia, where together with a group of InterVarsity Canada and Peter from BHSS we were involved in an outreach at the state university St. Cyril and Methodius. I had the time just to go to the BHSS office and have some food, before Peter came and we both went to the bus station.

Just before the getting on the bus I saw a familiar face among the passengers. I had never seen this man but I knew who he was. So, I approached him and asked: "Excuse me, are you Mr Lyubcho Kurtelov?" He nodded and then we started chatting and finished only half an hour before getting to Skopje at 11 p.m., in order to get a short nap.

Lyubcho Kurtelov is one of the most prominent people working for the cause of promoting the Bulgarian cause in Macedonia. He is a great-grand son of Dimitar Miladinov, a great writer of the Macedonian Renaissance. He spoke with big love for Macedonia and gave me a lot of information about his initiatives and the present state of the affairs between our countries. He is not only very intelligent but speaks with humility and wisdom that many Christians in our churches can learn from. He invited me to visit him in Ohrid and since I had never been there we made arrangements that I would go after the mission in Skopje.

In Skopje we had great time. Two days we would go to advertise the events in the evenings and invite students at the dorms and uni. We had great conversations, especially the second day. The first evening Nicola gave a speach on "How We Can Get a Better Citizenship". There were about 10 non-Christians, which was great. The second evening we had a Canadian culture night, and again there were about 10-15 non-Christians.

I also met with Mariyan Rizinski and another guy called Deyan, members of the Bulgarian Culture Club in Skopje, which works for promoting the connections between our countries. They gave me some ideas about possible future cooperation between our organisations. Peter and I also visited the Bulgaria Culture Information Center and made a small donation of BHSS books. We plan to bring more books in the future and even hold a presentation for the local students who want to apply for studying in Bulgaria.

The last night in Skopje we visited a couple for a dinner. We met with them the first night at a billiards club - he was from Skopje, and she from Kenia. It was fun as his descent was even more mixed - his mother was Polish and she met with his father while taking a holiday in ... Varna. We had a great time, speaking about their lives, about what we do, Christianity, etc.

Then, yesterday morning I left very early for Ohrid. I had been quite tired since I didn't sleep a lot. But most of the time I just couldn't sleep since the scenery was so beautiful - mountain ranges with trees of all colors, as if it is still September (Ohrid is quite south-ward). I got there at about 9:30 and from the bus station Lyubcho, I and a couple of other old gentlemen went to the Memorial Service for the Bulgarian soldiers who died in a First World War battle that has taken place in a village nearby. I met interesting guys there, mostly old ones, from the people with Bulgarian identity in Macedonia. Was even able to speak a lot about Christianity with some of them.

Then went back and met with Lyubcho's wife Snejana and their 10 year old daughter Katerina. We spoke a lot and they asked quite many questions about Christianity. Both are very intelligent and friendly. Today is my last day in Ohrid. So, we will go to see the king Samuil fortress and the old town of Ohrid. Tonight I am leaving for Sofia and from there hope to get the train to Varna.